Every year, Herricks High School on Long Island honors the two top-performing seniors with the academic distinction of valedictorian and salutatorian — revealed as a surprise over the school intercom.
No one knows whom the honors will go to until the announcement is made, and this year, it went to a unique pairing: twin brothers Devon and Dylan Lee.
“Our main goal through high school was just to kind of live the high school experience, still have fun,” Dylan told NBC News. “While academics was a priority, there are also many other aspects to our lives, including extracurriculars and making sure to spend time with friends.”
Devon, named valedictorian for having the highest GPA, is also a dedicated athlete and musician. He has led the boys volleyball team to back-to-back conference championships and received an All-County distinction. He is among the top 50 volleyball players on Long Island and teaches the sport to youth at a volleyball summer clinic he co-founded, according to a news release from the school.
He also received National Association for Music Education All-State and All-Eastern Orchestra honors for his achievements as a cellist, performed at Carnegie Hall and placed second at the New York Laureate International Music Competition, according to the school.
Dylan, named the class salutatorian, competed on the championship volleyball team and has achieved first-place finishes in a 10K and two half marathons. He’s also placed highly in national jazz competitions. “[Dylan] dedicates a great deal of time and energy into strengthening the Jazz community within Herricks, ensuring that the musical culture remains vibrant,” the school wrote in a statement.
Because the two are in many of the same courses and activities, there is a healthy amount of competition, according to Devon.
“It’s more of a friendly dynamic, where we can help each other and there is still a level of competitiveness,” he said.
When they found out through the school PA system that they were named valedictorian and salutatorian, they were invited to the main office, where their parents were waiting to surprise them. Their sister, who had graduated as valedictorian the year prior and is now attending the California Institute of Technology, tuned in to the celebration via FaceTime to congratulate them. Devon and Dylan credit their family as a positive motivating force growing up.
The pair said that they recently learned where they will be attending college. Devon will attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and Dylan will attend Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Devon plans to study computer science, and Dylan wants to study biomedical engineering.
When they leave for different universities next fall, it will mark the first time they have ever lived apart; but they say they are excited to start this new chapter of their lives.
“We have a special bond with each other, I would say, and we can understand each other way better than pretty much anyone else can,” Devon said. “I’m definitely nervous to an extent to be separated, but I think I’m just as equally excited to finally see what it’s like to be out in the world on my own.”
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